We won’t spoil the big reveal, but even if you know the ending of Wes Craven’s horror masterpiece, these facts may be able to shock you.
1. The Original Title of the Film Was Scary Movie
It was changed to Scream by the Weinstein brothers—then the heads of the film’s production company, Miramax—in the middle of production. They allegedly decided on the change because Harvey Weinstein was listening to the Michael Jackson song “Scream” in his car with his brother Bob. They both liked the title for a horror movie.
2. It Was Inspired by True Events
Screenwriter Kevin Williamson was partially inspired by a real life series of student murders in Gainesville, Florida in 1990, perpetrated by killer Danny Harold Rolling who was later dubbed “The Gainesville Ripper.” Williams was also inspired by John Carpenter’s 1978 horror classic, Halloween, his favorite movie.
3. The Script Was a Hot Commodity in Hollywood
Williamson’s self-referential script sparked a fierce bidding war in Hollywood between five movie studios before Williamson ultimately accepted Dimension Films’ $400,000 offer to buy the screenplay.
4. Two Horror Legends Were Asked to Direct
The Weinstein brothers initially approached noted horror directors George A. Romero and Sam Raimi for directorial duties, but they both turned the project down. Wes Craven, who had directed the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, initially passed as well, but he signed on to direct after Drew Barrymore agreed to appear in the film in the lead role of Sidney Prescott.
5. Barry-less Is More
Barrymore changed her mind about playing the lead five weeks before production was set to begin. Barrymore instead suggested she play Casey Becker, the teen terrorized by the killer in the opening scene, to cleverly subvert audience expectations that a star of her stature would survive the movie. Casting directors approached Alicia Witt, Brittany Murphy, and Reese Witherspoon to take over the Sidney Prescott role before eventually casting Neve Campbell.
6. Five Days of Work
Barrymore shot all of her scenes in the first five days of production.
7. The Killer’s Now-Iconic Mask Was a Simple Off-the-Shelf Halloween Mask
Craven and a producer found it at a house they were location scouting.
8. Craven Was Almost Replaced
Bob Weinstein initially thought the killer’s mask wasn’t scary enough and considered replacing Craven as director. But Craven and editor Patrick Lussier created a workprint out of dailies of the opening scene that convinced Weinstein to quickly change his mind.